Human mouth houses over 600 kinds of microbes

February 28th, 2009 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 28 (IANS) A human mouth houses a flourishing community of over 600 different kinds of bugs or microbiome. But like fingerprints, no two microbiomes are alike, say scientists.
In the first global study of salivary microbes, scientists found that the oral microbiome of your neighbour is just as different from yours as someone across the globe.

The human body harbours 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells - a stunning figure that suggests a likely dynamic between ourselves and the bacteria humans carry, both in state of health and disease.

The human mouth, a major entry point for bacteria into the body, also contains a diverse array of microbial species. Yet, microbiome diversity between individuals and how this relates to diet, environment, health and disease remains unexplored.

The researchers, led by Mark Stoneking of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have sequenced and analysed variation in the bacterial gene encoding 16S rRNA, a component of the ribosome, in the salivary “metagenome” of 120 healthy subjects from six geographic areas.

Stoneking and colleagues compared the sequences they found with a database of 16S rRNA sequences to categorise the types of bacteria present, according to a Max Planck press release.

The group observed that there was considerable diversity of bacterial life in the saliva microbiome, both within and between individuals. However, “the saliva microbiome does not vary substantially around the world”, said Stoneking.

“This seems surprising, given the large diversity in diet and other cultural factors that could influence the human salivary microbiome,” he added.

The group’s findings could help analyse human migrations and populations, said the release.

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